You know it’s been a long time since you’ve logged into your blog when you can’t remember your username. And you can’t remember the password. And when you can’t remember how to start a new post. But I’m here, finally, a month later and ready to tackle the next day of the trip. Have I really only made it through three days? Yeesh.
I woke up in the capital of Turkey, Ankara, to the most awful rendition of the call to prayer I have ever heard. Maybe that’s sacrilege to say but it was squeaky and pitchy and off tune- it reminded me of the first few weeks of American Idol when they show the really, really bad auditions. It did it’s job, however; I got up and prayed. I prayed that it would stop.
I was more than ready to leave our hotel. Even though we were in a non-smoking room, it still reeked of stale smoke and everything felt musty. Our guide told us that he knows many Turkish business travelers who smoke and still request non-smoking rooms; apparently they don’t like the smell either, so they book an “unscented” one and stink it up, too. Doesn’t make much sense.
Before we left I ran to the local pharmacy down the street to pick up some deodorant. In my quest for packing light I realized I had only packed one tiny, tiny stick and that was not going to cut it. So I enter the store and mumble a very broken “merhaba” to the man behind the counter. As I browse the shelves in search of something resembling Dove or Secret, the man proudly brings over a box of tampons and offers them to me. Men really DO know what women want. (Insert a LOL here because I did, in fact, LOL right in his face.) Poor guy. I made the universal sign for deodorant. He chuckled slightly and pointed me in the correct direction.
Once THAT task was completed, it was onto the bus headed for the world class Anatolian Civilizations Museum, a treasure trove of artifacts spanning centuries and centuries of Turkish history: Paleolithic to Bronze Age, the Hittites, the Assyrians, the Greek and Roman influence of the Classical Period, the Byzantines… a veritable smorgasbord of smashed bits that would make any lover of History weak in the knees.
Moving on.. our next stop was Atatürk’s Mausoleum, a humongous complex dedicated to the founding father of modern Turkey. I couldn’t possibly go into all the details about his life, or do him justice, but if you have time you should do a bit of research on him. This entire building revolves around his life, from the marble mausoleum to the underground museum that spans his early life, political career, and military role. They created scenes from the Turkish War for Independence… reconstructing the battle in 3D set against detailed murals. They even piped in a soundtrack that played as you walked along the viewing platform. Unfortunately, no pictures were allowed but it gave you a tiny sense of what it had been like.
As we drove along it was startling to see how quickly the landscaped changed. We said goodbye to green hills and trees and hello to large expanses of rock and lime and vineyards. We entered the tiny town of Müstafapaşa, truly a hidden gem in the Cappadocia region as evidenced by the lack of tour buses that have been overabundant everywhere we’ve turned. It was just turning dusk and the lights in the little village houses were flickering on. Old women in head coverings hurried home, baskets tucked under their arms. Dirty children raced through the streets. Men settled down at outdoor tables with a cup of tea in hand and watched unabashed as we lumbered through their quiet town. The profile of Ataturk in red Christmas lights shone down on us from it’s high hill side perch. THIS was what I thought Turkey would be like.
Our destination, Cappadocia Estates, was a beautiful hotel carved right into the hills. We were literally cave dwellers for three nights. The rooms were gorgeous with hardwood floors and Turkish rugs, Ottoman style paintings on the walls, heated bathroom floors, and most importantly, soft beds and (almost) sound proof walls.
Dinner that night was served family style in an old renovated barn/farm house next door. We ate in the rooms they would have stored feed in. Fitting, eh? Classic salad (tomatoes, onions, and dill), homemade bread, yogurt, olives, eggplant parmesan with lamb, and baklava. De-lic-ious.
And so ended day 4. With very full bellies we staggered back to our rooms, ready for a good nights sleep in preparation for our 4 am wake up call and a hot air balloon ride!